Sharood, A Think Big Spain Project At One Young World

Axel Meta, 19, representing the Sharood team, was sponsored by Telefonica to attend one of the most important gatherings for young leaders, where they connect and inspire people with projects and ideas in organizations of all sizes.  

Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, told us that if we put our mind to it, we can use technology to change the world. This is exactly what we aim to do with Sharood. We use the power of online tools to improve offline life. From my point of view, the potential of the Internet, especially on mobile, is to help make the structures of our society more accessible to everyone: This can be to have access to education, contact a representative or to meet your neighbors. What is striking for me is that in the age of hyperconnectivity, most of us have not taken the time to know our neighbors. We, at Sharood, want to change that. If we feel part of our community, the way we act and behave in society will improve because we understand at a deeper level that we are all part of this world, there is not much space left for individualistic behavior if we want to make it a better place.

Let me introduce you to Sharood. It is an app that connects people via food. If you're cooking you post the meal on the app (currently only available in Amsterdam), your neighbors see that you're cooking and can join you for your breakfast, lunch or dinner. To make the sharing fair, so that everyone who gives to the community also gains from being part of it, Sharood has its own virtual currency called Cookies. You spend the cookies you earned cooking to eat at others houses for free.

At OYW I was inspired to hear about how so many young people are improving their city, country, or the world in so many creative way. Regarding my cause, I was also able to get a lot of feedback from potential users, potential partners and experts in community building. In fact, just while waiting for the opening ceremony to start, I discussed with a team that coaches children for educational purposes in a slum in Kenya, how Sharood could benefit their community by being a replacement for a fridge! That's right, people can’t access fridges there but they do have access to Internet. They could share the food they are cooking with their neighbors and know that the next day they don't need to get food because someone else will share with them (we have to see how it'd actually work in more detail in the coming weeks).

During the Summit, I discussed with some speakers how Sharood can help build a stronger community in Pittsburgh by integrating not only refugees with the locals, but also the locals with the locals. Sharood could even be implemented in the Telefonica district in Madrid so that employees save time by not having to cook everyday and at the same time can meet other colleagues. The fact that everyone was involved in a different cause in society allowed us to see how we can make our overall impact bigger by collaborating. These ideas are not officially in place, but we are very enthusiastic to start a conversation with these One Young World Ambassadors on how we can begin integrating Sharood in their communities.

Besides that, meeting other people making a difference in their communities who sacrifice part of their life for the greater good was really reassuring that the effort is worth putting and that if we are the one privileged from the system. It is our responsibility to use our opportunities to make the world equally good for everyone.

I want to thank everyone who I've had the pleasure of meeting, you have already contributed to my cause and I hope that I was and am still able to contribute to your cause in the coming period

Using Sharood for the First Time

Josefine Andersen had Sharood on her phone for a while, but never found the right time to use it. Then, she overheard Tessa Verhees and Paula Sintenie planning their Sharood meal that night and she decided she would finally give it a try. She asked a friend of hers, Klaudia Godot, who also never used Sharood before, to come along. The two of them brought over wine and dessert (though an average sharooder does not need to do this) in order to make the experience even better. The following is an interview with Josefine and Klaudia talking about their experience of using Sharood for the first time.

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This was your first time using Sharood, right? What made you try it out?

Klaudia: Food


Josefine: Well, I started after summer holiday when you started advertising for it, basically. I got the app because I thought it was a great idea. I saw pictures also from dinners of everyone getting together, it looked like a very social thing, so I was like yeah I want to try that out too. And then, the boundary was always going alone, like if you really don't know anyone and had never spoken to them before was kind of a boundary. So, when Tessa was arranging it with another girl, who I had not met before, since I knew Tessa it was a bit easier and I was like okay I’ll go.

Klaudia: Yeah it’s quite the same. I’ve been planning on going to one of the Sharood dinners for so long, but the boundary for me was always deadlines or work, so I never had time I always missed all the dinners and then there was this one time and we were just here in the AB and then Tessa was planning this dinner and we were like lets do it, lets just do it, and we did it and it was fun.

Has this experience helped you become more comfortable with the idea, I mean more for you (pointing to Josefine) to use the app, like going over to someone’s place or cooking for someone else?

Josefine: Uhm… I feel like that's just me as a person but yeah I would still be a bit reluctant if I really had never spoken to them before, like it would be okay if even if its just someone I’ve only said a few words to but the thought of never haven spoken to someone before and then going alone is still kind of a boundary.

So, can you explain the process of going to the meal?

Klaudia: Were you nervous (to Josefine)

Josefine: chuckle No, I wasn't nervous and I kind of knew who was, so no I wasn't nervous

Klaudia: No, me neither. I was actually looking forward to it.

Josefine: Yeah, me too!

Klaudia: We even went to Spar and bought like wine and dessert

Josefine: Even though that is not like the convention

What was the meal like?

Josefine and Klaudia: It was good

Klaudia: It was some spaghetti with some exotic vegetables

Laughter amongst the two

Klaudia: Broccoli

Josefine: Yeah, it was just also something I would cook at home, not spectacular, but good, filling and the conversation was good, yeah we all got along so that was lucky

Klaudia: and the setting was really nice

Josefine: It wasn't awkward at all

Klaudia: No, no no, but like the table was really nice

Josefine: It was cute

Klaudia: It was set really nicely

And what was it like after the meal? When you finished?

Josefine: We went to AUCafé all together, yeah
So, you guys ate together before an event and went there together?

Josefine: Yeah, but that wasn't even planned, it was just spontaneous because it went so well

Klaudia: Yeah

Josefine: Yeah, and now I smile to the girls when I see them

Klaudia: Yeah, same, so it’s nice,

Josefine: It’s really nice
Klaudia: We’re friends on Facebook now

In all honesty, would you use Sharood again? Cooking or going?

Klaudia: Yes. I would do both

Josefine: Yeah, both

And what do you guys think of the concept of sharing food and getting to know people at the same time?

Klaudia: I really like it, such a good idea

Josefine: Yeah, you can even do it if you are the shy person you can still take a friend with you, so it’s open in that way. But yeah I was really impressed when I saw it I was like wow, that's a really good idea.
And do you have any advice for people who haven’t Sharooded yet?

Klaudia: Do it


Josefine: No, really, bring a friend, but the one thing that is a boundary is a bit of time management involved, so you need to plan a meal if you want to invite more people then when you go shopping you also have to think about proportions, how much you buy, so you do have to plan a bit and that's maybe also why I hadn’t done it before. It wasn't in my mind when I went shopping.

No it is a strange thing you have to think about cooking for more but then you don't think about that if you cook for other people you can still after that you can essentially go to a meal three times for free.

Josefine: Yeah, people should keep that in mind, myself as well, but I really want to cook a meal soon!

Klaudia: Yeah, me too!

Hosting a Sharood Meal

Remember Claudia and Josefine?? Well, these are the girls that made the Sharood meal that they attended! Welcome Paula Sintenie, Heleen Vos, and Tessa Verhees!

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Can you tell me what it was like to use Sharood for the first time?

Tessa: It was your first time (points to Paula)

Paula: Yeah it was my first time

Did you know about the concept before you started?

Paula: Yes, it was really hard to not know about it


Heleen: But I really liked it, like I knew the girls we were eating with, I kind of saw them at school, but I didn't know they were so fun

Paula: I’d never seen them before, not before that day

What did you think about sharing a meal with them even though you’d never met them before?

Paula: It was fun

Heleen: I think there is an easy connection, you know you can talk about the food and then from one comes the other

Paula: Lots of wine


Was it difficult to figure out what you wanted to cook?


Tessa: We just kind of made up the title we said “pasta with exotic veggies” because we just put all the veggies we had together.

Heleen: We were just like, “Yeah, I have tomatoes, zucchini” what else? Yeah, I don't even know what else we added.

Paula: Broccoli, home made tomato sauce

So, you didn't feel a pressure to make the meal good and to entertain your guests?

Tessa: No
Paula: No

You guys went to AUCafé after, right? Is that something you would do with all Sharooders?

Tessa: No, it was just a natural thing that happened

Paula: I wanted to go to AUCafé, but all my friends didn't want to go and then we were eating and I was like maybe you guys want to join, you're my new friends.


Can you describe your ideal Sharood meal?

Heleen: Sushi


Tessa: No, the Deans meal was the ideal, like really good food, really good wine, and people

To Paula: Is that what you kind of experienced? Personally, does your ideal Sharood meal resemble the meal you had?

Paula: Yeah, well except for the food it could have been more exotic


Any suggestions for future Sharood chefs?

Tessa: Maybe if you’re doing it the first time try it with someone you know cause I was the person who knew both camps (laughter) so it’s good to have one connecting factor

Thank you girls for doing the interview! We hope to see more of your meals on Sharood soon!

Meeting Friends on Sharood

The lovely Laura Galante and Gordon Lucas joined me in an interview of how they met each other and delve into the influence Sharood has on the future. Thank you again for your time! Check out the interview below!

How long have you been using Sharood?

Gordon: I think since the first week I came here.

Laura: For me I think ever since its conception, around June. The moment it came out I was really interested in the idea and I messaged Axel for it.

What has the experience been like so far?
Gordon: Really cool. I met tons of people, for example Laura. We usually have good food, I’ve never had bad food and it saves a lot of time and money.

Laura: Yeah, same for me. I think the first time I used Sharood I went to Blijde’s dinner and she cooks the most amazing Malaysian food and that’s actually when I got to know her as well as Emma because they cook together. So, I thought that was a really nice way to kind of get to know each other better but also share the food that she made. And the same goes for when I cook for other people. And, when I met Gordon.

I think the craziest thing, well not really crazy, but kind of interesting is that you don’t just meet someone and forget about them.

How would you describe being a chef in one word?

Gordon: Fun. It’s fun cooking, but usually you don't cook for yourself because it’s too much food so with Sharood you have people to enjoy the food with.

Laura: For me it would be rewarding because it’s really nice to see people try your food and see what they think of it. In a way it is also rewarding for you because you put in the extra effort for them because you don't usually set up a table for yourself.


How would you describe being a guest in one word?

Gordon: Easy, you don't really have to do anything.

Laura: Very relaxed.

Gordon: Convenient.

What’s the craziest thing that has happened at a Sharood meal?


Laura: I think the craziest thing, well not really crazy, but kind of interesting is that you don't just meet someone and forget about them. I find it is a very serendipitous moment because it was kind of a coincidence that when I met Gordon I happened to see him again in Dutch class, so you never know when you’re going to probably meet that other person again.

Gordon: I think the craziest thing for me on Sharood was when we ate with the Dean and the Dean cooked for us. That was so good! (laughter) We played foosball.

What have you gained from using the app?

Gordon: Kilos


Gordon: No, just kidding

Laura: I guess new ways of cooking things. I don't tend to be extremely original with my food when I just want to eat and make something that I know. But, for example there are so many ways you can cook chicken and there are so many things I want to try out because of the food I have eaten at other people’s places.

Gordon: It’s inspiring to eat food from all over the world.

Have you tried to make one of the meals someone else did?

Gordon: Oh, I did. In the first week someone made Nasi Goreng and it was so good, so now we try to make it once a week.

What has Sharood done whether it is events or meals that you liked seeing or enjoyed being a part of?

Laura: I think you guys sponsored a sort of beer event where you put the Sharood logo on the bottles.

Oh! That was from Dormsessions

Laura: Yeah, that was really nice, was really well done.

Gordon: Well, then also you had this action where the person who cooked the most wins sushi with Kit. That’s actually really nice. I think I had that more than once.

Yeah, we had that twice, I think or three times maybe.

Gordon: But it’s amazing

Laura: Yeah, I still want to try that

Gordon: And it’s nice of Kit obviously to work together

Yeah, we want to do it again!

What is your opinion on Sharood changing the individualistic life many of us live to a more shared life and society?

Laura: I mean right now Sharood is going through a lot to make sure that this happens and I think its useful for new students that there is a kind of shared environment because it makes it easier to interact and to not be afraid to step up to other people’s rooms to open up a bit. If Sharood keeps going this way, I think this could be quite a good change and it would create a very strong feeling of community, which is really useful in environments such as these.

Gordon: Well, I don't think AUC is a very individualistic place, and I live in a four-person room. We constantly share everything. But I think it’s really amazing to share beyond that and see other people share food with you who live in a single person room. You see so many new people, new rooms, new food and it’s relaxing.

Well, that was it. Thank you!

Laura & Gordon: Thank you!

A Process Worth Recognizing

Laura Galante, March 2016

When I see an interesting dish on the Sharood notifications page, I am usually impulsive when it comes to attending a meal. Tonight was no different. I had no plans of attending a dinner, but then I saw Lieke posting something about a hotpot, which included “fish balls, thinly sliced beef, prawn balls, two kinds of mushroom, paksoi…” and the list goes on and on. Even lotus slices. Half of the things I read I did not even think were edible, so I sacrificed four cookies to click “attend”, and I should say that despite the price, I was not disappointed.

Zike was the one who was cooking the dinner all along but let Lieke post on Sharood on her behalf. Zike is originally from China, but is an exchange student from Seattle. When I came into her room, the first thing I saw was a table laden with dishes upon dishes of all the things I read on Lieke’s post, and more. At the center was a steaming pot of spicy broth, which was the main cooking source for all the ingredients that were set on the table. Axel came as well, and with great care, Zike initiated not only the dinner, but also explained a meticulous step-by-step process of how to go about this particular food.

Each of us had a small bowl, into which Zike poured a bit of sesame oil, soya sauce, spicy beans with onion, and to top it off, fresh coriander. After we waited for the broth to come to a boil, we gradually placed the raw ingredients into the pot. First and foremost was the sliced beef. After it became well cooked, we each took pieces with chopsticks, an endeavor that I must admit, I have yet to master properly, and dunked them into the dipper bowl with the concoction that we had just made. The boiling broth was already spicy on its own, but it was the dipper sauce that made it even more so, and it wasn’t long before all of us developed runny noses and flushed faces (those of us who were not used to so much spice, at least). But after the initial adaptation to the hot flavor, I came to find that the beef had quite an interesting combination of spicy and sweet, and it was easier to get used to it than I expected. I am not usually that resilient when it comes to spices, but with a little bit of water, I really came to appreciate it.

We tried different ingredients; paksoi, potatoes, lotus slices – which taste like turnips – and the pot of broth became one big soup in which we ended up fishing for interesting treasures that acquired taste with the sauce. The table became one big greasy surface, as it is quite difficult to eat this dish with decorum; eventually you just end up slurping everything for fear that it might slip out of your chopsticks. We even had a contest to see who could fish out noodles and vegetables without losing hold of them.

For many of the Sharood dinners that I am used to having, I don’t really think about the process the chef goes through to serve the final product since it is usually finished at once. For example, when I make a plate of pasta, each bite is ready to be eaten and it’s easy to pick it up with a fork (without a spoon). This time, however, getting each bite properly cooked and flavored took effort, and I ended up appreciating what went behind the things I ate. I thought of the process that happens not just before, but also during the making. This encouraged me to eat the meal slowly instead of gorging it all down in one go. Hell, I even took pride in the single fish ball that magically decided to stay put between the chopsticks.

Hear Me Out

Axel Meta, March 2016

This is not a marketing text, these are my feelings as a worker for Sharood.

The words used in this text do not accurately describe how I feel about this Sharood experience because it was much richer than words can let on. 

Part of my job is to use Sharood almost everyday. I usually like to go to Sharood meals in order to better understand the Sharood experience and see what we can improve. l look at all aspects from the process of saving a seat, to saying goodbye at the end of the dinner.

Today my day had started a bit differently: at 11 in the morning I met with a person from the University of Amsterdam who wanted to do research on the Sharood community. We talked for an hour and a half. The researcher focused a lot of the questions on the kinds of conversations that happen while Sharooding, as opposed to "normal" situations. I answered, without much thought, that they were the kinds of conversations that would happen in any context if a group of 2-5 people meet for the first time. I said, hey, Sharood just enables and enhances the interactions that would otherwise happen naturally, too. I told the ethnographer that once you open a door, you gradually feel comfortable with the person and the interactions flow naturally. What I think is special is that the "awkward" preconception of meeting new people via Sharood is not something visible. This means that getting acquainted with new people is simply just the process of getting from your house to your host's house or vice versa. Once you shake hands, the meeting of new people is over; what starts is the interaction between people.

Later that day, at 18:45, I was in the center with some friends and I got notified that there was a Sharood meal. It was my natural call of duty to see what this experience would be like to improve Sharood a little bit more (and let's enjoy some great food and meeting new people). When I arrived to the host's meal, I was remembering the questions that the ethnographer asked me in the morning, but I tried not to influence the dinner conversation to just get feedback. I was curious to see where it would go. By the end of dinner, the attendees (including me) and the host had not only shared the house and food, but also our heart. Besides talking about Italian, Dutch, Chinese and Spanish culture, other gossips and fun things, we talked about how we perceive ourselves versus how we think we are perceived by others. This led to us talking about our strengths and weaknesses and telling anecdotes of our past. This was the special part: talking so openly about our past with a group of people that had never met prior to arriving at the host's home.

It was no group psychology, just a conversation while having some Chinese food. None of the attendees are what you or I would consider unusual people, but we all share the fact that we are not perfect human beings. Today I felt like I made a difference by attending this Sharood meal. I feel good because we were not only sharing food but we were sharing our stories. We all had a good time and continued talking even as we were in the corridor leaving to go back to our routines. This brief moment of our day, where we were Sharooding, had a big and inspiring impact: it was authentic sharing. I noticed that Sharood is not only about sharing food, it's about sharing our everyday lives.